If I’ve heard one cliché, I’ve heard ’em all. Or at least 100.

Go Into the Story collects The Definitive List of Clichéd Dialogue.

“When it comes to lazy, trite dialogue,” here are his top ten worst offenders:

  1. I was born ready.
  2. Are you sitting down?
  3. Let’s get out of here!
  4. _____ my middle name.
  5. Is that all you got? — I’m just getting started.
  6. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
  7. Don’t you die on me!
  8. Tell my wife and kids I love them.
  9. Breathe, dammit!
  10. Cover me. I’m going in.

There are 111 more. And I can think up some other lines that really grate on me — starting with, “I have no choice!” It’s especially irritating when shouted in a Jack Bauer voice. I have vowed never, ever to use that line in a book, at least without heavy doses of sarcasm or irony.

How about you? Any clichés get your, uh, let’s see, not a goat…

9 responses to “If I’ve heard one cliché, I’ve heard ’em all. Or at least 100.

  1. A (multi-5-star-Amazon-reviewed) self-published author emailed me her novel a few months ago and asked if I’d review it on my blog. After reading it, I decided not too.

    Good story, but the writing really needs work, and eliminating adverbs and the many (many) cliches would knock her word count down by about 15%. Without having spent many years dabbling at writing myself, though, I’m not entirely sure they would have ‘jumped out at me’ (sorry!) to the same extent?

  2. The blessings, and curse, of learning the craft…

  3. I think the one I hate the most is “Are you OK?” I would give you great odds if you could prove me wrong that this sentence appears in 97% of every TV show ever aired at some point in the story. Same thing with movies. Oddly enough, I rarely see it in books. Good books, anyway.

  4. Lines from IQ, one of my favourite romantic comedies:
    Albert Einstein: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
    Ed the mechanic: What would be the chances of that?

  5. About “Cover me. I’m going in.”

    I’ve never never never understood how that’s supposed to work. COVER ME??? How? With what? They’re out there shooting at you. With real bullets. Just what does this miraculous cover consist of? Intercepting bullets in mid-air with other bullets?

    Thanks. I needed to get that out there.

  6. “If I’ve heard one cliche, I’ve heard ’em all.” Meg, if we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.

  7. I not usually that irritated by cliches, but about a year ago I bought two mystery romance/comedy novels of a self published author (it would be pretty funny if it turned out to be the same one djpaterson is referring to!). They were part 1 & 2 of a series and I read them back to back. The first one was pretty cliche ridden, but still funny enough to make up for the shortcomings. Book two was just over the top and the worst thing was that the title, which was a tired old cliche, was repeated over and over throughout the story. If ever a book needed a good editing that was it.

  8. You can never go home.
    Well that’s just stupid…and wishful thinking for untold (and told, some of ’em ya just can’t shut ’em the hell up about it) millions.

    (heya, somebody told me how to get in here through a back door, ya really should lock this joint up tighter, never know what kinda riff raff is gonna go pokin’ ’round the pantry 😉 )

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